THAI AND TALES

Two nights in Bangkok and the world’s your oys­ter ...

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Escape - - DESTINATION BANGKOK - ALEX LALAK

There was a time when Bangkok was lit­tle more than a gi­ant tourist trap, filled with grubby back­packer ho­tels and trashy bars. But over the past decade that has all changed, and the cap­i­tal of Thai­land has shrugged off its trashy rep­u­ta­tion and emerged as one of the hippest and most cos­mopoli­tan des­ti­na­tions in the world.

The seedy side of the city is still there for those who want it, but it’s now balanced with world-class restau­rants, high-end shop­ping, hip­ster cof­fee shops and chic bars, mak­ing it the per­fect choice for an af­ford­able yet lux­u­ri­ous stopover.

From re­lax­ing mas­sages to the per­fect pad thai, shop­ping for fash­ion by up-and-com­ing Thai de­sign­ers to sip­ping French cham­pagne on a rooftop, 48 hours is just the right amount of time to soak it all up – and here’s the best way to do it.

DAY ONE 9AM

Set the right tone for your Bangkok mini-ad­ven­ture by choos­ing a ho­tel that bal­ances com­fort and con­ve­nience. There are sev­eral ex­cel­lent ho­tels through­out the city, but the pick of the bunch is the swanky Pull­man Bangkok Ho­tel G. It’s lux­u­ri­ous but well-priced and boasts a ter­rific lo­ca­tion right in the heart of the newly fash­ion­able Silom neigh­bour­hood.

There are plenty of good cof­fee places around here to give you a caf­feinated kick­start, but the best choice is Rocket Cof­fee­bar.

This in­cred­i­bly pop­u­lar cafe has a Scan­di­na­vian hip­ster vibe – which roughly trans­lates to ter­rific cof­fee, tasty food (in­clud­ing a whole menu ded­i­cated to open sand­wiches) and a fresh airy at­mos­phere.

Or­der the egg and ba­con-laden Vik­ing Break­fast Plate if you’re feel­ing hun­gry, or a crunchy cin­na­mon bun if you want to ease your way into things, cou­pled with ei­ther a flat white or the house spe­cialty, hot co­coa, which comes as a choco­late pop­si­cle that you swirl in a cup of warm, frothy milk un­til it melts.

Walk off your break­fast with a stroll along Silom Rd, which is filled with lit­tle shops and mar­kets, un­til you reach Lumpini Park.

This oa­sis of green in the midst of the city is pop­u­lar with jog­gers and cy­clists, and the per­fect place to shake off any lin­ger­ing jet lag and soak up some vi­ta­min D.

12PM

Af­ter a wan­der in the park, go back down Silom Rd un­til you reach the river and head to the newly opened Baan Phadthai for a noo­dle lunch. They spe­cialise in one dish (no prizes for guess­ing it’s pad thai) and be­lieve us when we say it tastes noth­ing like the sticky heavy ver­sion churned out by your lo­cal Thai restau­rant at home.

Here, the silky noo­dles are fresh and topped with high qual­ity in­gre­di­ents cooked to or­der. Go clas­sic with grilled chicken or step things up a bit with the lus­cious grilled blue river prawn.

Or if you’d pre­fer to sam­ple some of Thai­land’s fa­mous street food, head to Or Tor Kor mar­ket. Lo­cated close to the fa­mous, and enor­mous, Chatuchak mar­ket (def­i­nitely worth a visit if you’re in Bangkok over the week­end), this fresh food mar­ket is con­sid­ered one of the world’s best.

Or Tor Kor fea­tures rows of stalls of­fer­ing ev­ery­thing from jew­el­coloured trop­i­cal fruit to sil­very mounds of just-caught fish and it’s a fun place to ex­plore. But the real prize is the food court, a col­lec­tion of stalls where you can buy gen­er­ous plates of freshly made chicken sa­tay, roast duck with hand­made noo­dles or wanton soup with thin slices of pork for less than $5.

2PM

Af­ter a busy morn­ing of eat­ing and walk­ing, treat your­self to a spot of pam­per­ing. There’s no short­age of mas­sage shops through­out the city, but if you want to be guar­an­teed a good ex­pe­ri­ence head to ei­ther Myth Mas­sage or Health Land Sathorn (part of the pop­u­lar city­wide Health Land chain). Both are lo­cated a short dis­tance from the ho­tel and of­fer ex­ten­sive menus of treat­ments, from tra­di­tional Thai mas­sage to oil mas­sages and Ayurvedic treat­ments. It’s not as cheap as you’ll find it else­where but the value is ex­cel­lent.

7PM

For a spe­cial evening out try Is­saya Si­amese Club, a mod­ern Thai restau­rant lo­cated in a stun­ning and re­stored 100-year-old villa, home to lo­cal celebrity chef Ian Kit­tichai (who be­gan his ca­reer many years ago work­ing in Syd­ney restau­rants).

Start with a pre-din­ner cock­tail in the gar­den then feast on some of Kit­tichai’s sig­na­ture dishes in­clud­ing his un­usual take on mas­saman curry made with lamb shank and the del­i­cate jas­mine flower flan.

LATE

Af­ter din­ner, drift up­stairs to the “club” part of Is­saya (which is more like a re­laxed cock­tail bar) or head back to the ho­tel for a night­cap on the ter­race of the Scar­lett Wine Bar, lo­cated up on the 37th floor and pop­u­lar with lo­cals look­ing for a re­laxed late-night en­vi­ron­ment.

BUY GEN­ER­OUS PLATES OF FRESHLY MADE CHICKEN SA­TAY, ROAST DUCK WITH HAND­MADE NOO­DLES OR WANTON SOUP FOR LESS THAN $5

DAY TWO 10AM

Vast shop­ping cen­tres are pop­u­lar in Bangkok, and one of the best ones to visit is EmQuartier. It fea­tures a 40me­tre-high water­fall (just what you need in a shop­ping cen­tre) plus sev­eral food courts, a roof gar­den and cin­ema, and a whole host of re­tail

op­tions rang­ing from high-end la­bels like Chanel to high street chains in­clud­ing Zara. But the jewel in the EmQuartier crown is the Quara­tor area, an en­tire floor de­voted ex­clu­sively to Thai de­sign­ers. If you need a break, pop into the Soda Ur­ban No­mads store and head to the se­cret Love Bar tucked away at the back of the shop, where you can take five and en­joy a cheese plate or fresh juice.

12PM

For an au­then­tic and de­li­cious lunch with­out too many bells and whis­tles catch a taxi over to Krua Ap­sorn in the Dusit dis­trict, a ca­sual eatery serv­ing up some of the best food in the city. It’s al­ways packed with lo­cals tuck­ing into their sig­na­ture dish: crab with yel­low pep­pers and green beans, which is a must for seafood lovers. The cur­ries, sal­ads and omelets on the menu are also ex­cel­lent and in­cred­i­bly well priced.

1.30PM

Work off your lunch with some sight­see­ing: the Grand Palace, Na­tional Gallery and var­i­ous tem­ples are all within walk­ing dis­tance (or a short taxi ride) and well worth a visit if you’re look­ing for a cul­tural af­ter­noon. If you only have the stamina for one, pick the Grand Palace, a spec­tac­u­lar se­ries of build­ings now only used by the royal fam­ily for cer­e­mo­nial oc­ca­sions but filled with trea­sures that are a re­minder of thOen­loFancge­baOnOd­kven­er­a­ble his­tory of the@Tesh­caipme.coOnma.racuhy (who should be re­ferred to at all times with ut­most re­spect to avoid of­fend­ing lo­cals in any way).

8PM

Af­ter pop­ping back to the ho­tel for a quick cat­nap and change of clothes, head across the river to The Never End­ing Sum­mer for a mem­o­rable din­ner. The venue is a plant-filled for­mer ware­house space with wa­ter views and a cool vibe, and the food is a fresh and mod­ern take on tra­di­tional Thai cui­sine, with an em­pha­sis on shar­ing op­tions. Snag a ta­ble out on thOendFae­cekb,OwOikth its canopy ofOf­naiFrayce­bOOk @liegshc­tas­paen.cdOmri.vaeur views, if yo@uesc­caanp.e.cOm.au

10PM

Then fin­ish your two days in Bangkok on a high with a glass of bub­bly at CRU Cham­pagne Bar. This rooftop bar, which boasts the charm­ing but baf­fling dress code of “bub­bly smooth”, feels like some­thing out of a James Bond film and of­fers dra­matic views across the city.

PIC­TURES: SUP­PLIED

CRU CHAM­PAGNE BAR Soak up dra­matic views from Cru Cham­pagne Bar (main); a 100-year-old villa houses restau­rant Is­saya (right); the lux­u­ri­ous Pull­man Bangkok Ho­tel G (far right); and at Baan Phadthai (be­low), the silky noo­dles are fresh, the in­gre­di­ents top qual­ity.

BAAN PHADTHAI

IS­SAYA SI­AMESE CLUB PULL­MAN BANGKOK G

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.